The Man City 2022/23 season preview and prediction was originally printed in the Season Preview edition of FourFourTwo. Subscribe today! (opens in new tab)
Manchester City hoovered up 93 points and bagged 99 Premier League goals last season with no recognized striker. Now armed with Erling Haaland, who struck 62 goals in 67 Bundesliga games at Borussia Dortmund, the question hanging over City is how he fits into Pep Guardiola’s system. Who changes: Pep or his new signing? The Catalan’s track record with Samuel Eto’o, Robert Lewandowski and Sergio Aguero is very encouraging, but each had early difficulties.
Similarly, it took £100m man Jack Grealish time to settle last term, even if the calf king carried the ball into opposition boxes more than any other Premier League player. After near-league perfection once again, City wants Haaland’s clinical edge in the Champions League above all else. Just don’t mention Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Man City 2022/23 season preview and prediction: The lesson from last year
City started last season slowly: by the end of October they lost to Leicester in the Community Shield, failed to score on three occasions in the league and were knocked out of the League Cup by West Ham.
But the lasting bitter taste from 2021/22 will be conceding three late goals in the Champions League semi-final second leg to Real Madrid. It was another embarrassing exit in Europe’s elite competition for Guardiola, who is now approaching 12 years without continental success.
Another three-goal blitz, this time courtesy of Liverpool, in the FA Cup semi-final suggests that if City do have a problem, it’s one of mentality in some of the most important games. Coming from behind against Aston Villa to win 3-2 on the final day and clinch the title isn’t sustainable, right?
The coach: Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola’s future is likely to be one of the biggest stories of the 2022/23 season. His contract at the Etihad runs out next May, and the 51-year-old has indicated that he won’t make a decision on whether to stay or go until next year. Spring could be an anxious time for City supporters in more ways than one.
The owner: Sheikh Mansour
It’s fair to say that Sheikh Mansour, via City Football Group, is pretty well-liked by the Etihad faithful, with the club picking up 14 major honors in as many years since he arrived. That he’s happy to put hundreds of millions into the transfer kitty each summer certainly helps, and it’s unlikely to stop any time soon.
The mood around City…
Recruiting Haaland, Europe’s most exciting young talent and coveted by Real Madrid, represents a new City landmark. It may not be winning the Champions League, but it’s a sign they now rank firmly among the elite, as does a club-record unbeaten away run in the league (18). With Kalvin Phillips now adding more midfield drive, Joao Cancelo – more Premier League carries into the final third than anyone else last term – has a marauder-in-crime. All this without a proper left-back, at least at the time of writing, anyway.
The one to watch
Young Julian Alvarez, signed in January but immediately loaned back to River Plate, has not yet been seen on English shores, bar a substitute appearance for Argentina in June’s Finalissima victory against Italy at Wembley.
Most likely to…
Knock on Guardiola’s door asking for more minutes: Riyad Mahrez. City’s top scorer started 15 league games last season. Only John Stones, Fernandinho, Nathan Ake and Oleksandr Zinchenko featured less among outfield regulars.
Least likely to…
Knock on Guardiola’s door asking for more minutes: Scott Carson. City’s sole Champions League winner got 20 of them in the group stage last year. Easy.
The fan’s view: Lloyd Scragg (@lloyd_scragg (opens in new tab))
Last season was quite the whirlwind. Sure, we only won one trophy (albeit a pretty one), but our consistency was remarkable. To do it with no recognized No.9, again, is testament to the manager and his adaptable squad.
The big talking point is the ‘exodus’ of key players. We expected Gabriel Jesus to go, and no one would begrudge Oleksandr Zinchenko’s move, but the departure of Raheem Sterling – maybe even Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva, too, before the window closes – is far more troubling.
This season will be different because we’ve signed a No.9 and it’s Erling Haaland.
Our key player will be Kevin De Bruyne. Despite our phenomenal squad, it often feels like he’s still head and shoulders above the rest.
Our most underrated player is Kyle Walker. You saw just how much we missed his know-how and defensive cover towards the business end of last season.
I’m at least looking forward to playing Antonio Conte’s revamped Spurs. Our recent record is terrible against them (and Son Heung-min in particular). They’ll be a force.
The fans’ opinion of the gaffer is that he’s God, a genius – and yet he still doesn’t get the praise he deserves. His ability to adapt coaching methods to his players, the way his teams play, the consistency of title triumphs… it’s unrivaled.
The pantomime villain will be Jack Grealish, particularly if his form doesn’t improve early on. The media will get on him, but characters are to be embraced. He’s relatable – for good and bad reasons – and that’s rare these days.
The one change I’d make would be improving prices – our season tickets have unnecessarily continued to rise over the last 10 years.
We’ll finish 1 st.
FFT’S VERDICT… 1st
They’ve done just fine without a No.9 since Aguero – but how much better can City get? We’re about to find out…